You can also turn your focus to climbing the steepest, most technical slopes you can find or just go longer and faster with a grin from ear-to-ear. The ability to cover ground quickly means you can go out and explore places you wouldn’t otherwise consider.
These bikes also let you ride in ways you usually couldn’t, and as designs become more refined, the handling increasingly rivals – and in some scenarios exceeds – that of conventional mountain bikes.
For more on what to look for when buying an e-MTB, read our buyer’s guide at the bottom of this article. Otherwise, check out our guide to electric bike types to choose the right bike for you.
The best electric mountain bikes reviewed by BikeRadar
This is our pick of the best electric mountain bikes reviewed by the BikeRadar test team. You can also head to our full archive of electric bike reviews.
- Marin Alpine Trail E2: £5,695 / €6,199 / $5,999
- Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7.0: £4,299 / €4,497
- Giant Trance E+ 1 Pro: £4,499 / €4,999 / $5,600 / AU$7,499
- Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV: £10,499 / €11,699 / $11,499
Marin Alpine Trail E2
- £5,695 / €6,199 / $5,999 as tested
- Marin’s first full-suspension e-MTB
- Capable, fun and comfortable
Marin launched the Alpine Trail E at the end of 2020 and it’s the Californian brand’s first full-suspension electric mountain bike.
Luckily, it’s been worth the wait because the Alpine Trail E is a capable, fun and comfortable e-MTB with a well thought out spec that offers good value for money (top-spec dampers, Shimano drivetrains and branded components).
You get an aluminium frame with 150mm of travel, with aggressive, descent-focused geometry, while Shimano’s new EP8 motor provides the power.
The Alpine Trail E2 is at home on a broad spectrum of trails and lives up to Marin’s promise as a bike that will put a smile on your face.
The range also includes the cheaper Alpine Trail E1 at £4,295 / $4,499 / €4,899.
Canyon Spectral:ON CF 7.0
- £4,299 / €4,497 as tested
- Carbon main frame
- Playful handling when ridden fast
Redesigned in March 2020, the Canyon Spectral:ON’s main frame is now carbon with an alloy rear triangle, instead of all alloy, and its 504Wh battery is now internal.
Like its predecessor, it has mullet wheel sizes, with a 29in front and 27.5in rear wheel. On this CF 7.0 model, there’s 150mm of travel at the rear and a RockShox Deluxe Select shock, while power comes from a Shimano Steps E8000 motor, running through a 12-speed Shimano XT mech.
The motor provides plenty of power to get up steep climbs, while the feel when riding fast is more playful than planted.
We’ve also tested the top-spec, £6,499 Spectral:ON CF 9.0. Its components are better, but we reckon there’s little other reason to choose it over the 7.0.
Giant Trance E+ 1 Pro
- £4,499 / €4,999 / $5,600 / AU$7,499 as tested
- Easy to use controller
- Smart Assist mode
- On the heavy side
Giant’s Trance E+ 1 is powered by a Yamaha SyncDrive motor, with its 500Wh battery giving plenty of range.
There are five fixed levels of assist, but we’ve been particularly impressed by the Smart Assist mode, where motor power varies with how you ride. It gives loads of power when climbing, easing off when cruising on the flat or descending.
The rest of the spec is sorted on this second-tier model, with a Shimano Deore XT drivetrain and brakes, and Fox suspension. At more than 24kg, the Trance E+ 1 Pro is on the heavy side though.
Santa Cruz Bullit CC X01 RSV
- £10,499 / €11,699 / $11,499 as tested
- Exceptionally fast and capable bike
- Possible to overwhelm the forks and brakes on steeper trails
The Santa Cruz Bullit is a name that goes back to 1998, but the reimagined bike is a far cry from the original – the Bullit is now a 170mm travel e-MTB with a carbon frame and mixed wheel sizes.
The bike’s climbing ability impressed most during testing – it feels unstoppable going uphill, thanks in part to the Shimano EP8 motor.
The Bullit is also extremely capable downhill, particularly on faster and rougher trails, but slower, tighter and steeper sections need a bit more care.
There are four models in the range, with prices starting at £6,899 / $7,499 / €7,699 for the Bullit CC R, which uses Shimano’s Steps E7000 motor, and rising to £10,499 / $11,499 / €11,699 for the top-of-the-range Bullit CC X01 RSV featured here.
These bikes scored less than 4 out of 5 in our reviews but are still worth considering.
Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Elite
- £5,399 as tested
- Agile, eager to turn and easy to hop up and over obstacles
- Can be tricky to control on climbs
Nico Vouilloz and Yannick Pontal have both won ebike races on the Lapierre Overvolt GLP 2 Elite, designed for the emerging motor-assisted racing scene.
The carbon frame makes this better value than some of its rivals and, out on the trails, the Overvolt is agile and eager to please.
The relatively small battery limits range against the competition, though, and the front-end can be tricky to keep in check on climbs.
Merida eOne-Forty 9000
- £7,000 / €7,199 as tested
- Nimble handling
- Suspension holds it back on technical terrain
Merida uses the same carbon frame with alloy rear end on the eOne-Forty as its longer travel eOne-Sixty, but kits it out with a 133mm travel shock and steepens the head and seat tube angles.
It uses a Shimano Steps E8000 motor with an integrated 504Wh battery in the down tube for plenty of power and range.
The eOne-Forty is nimble on flowy trails, but the short suspension and front-end geometry make it nervous on steep descents.
Mondraker Crafty R 29
- £5,899 / $7,199 as tested
- Super-stable and excellent cornering grip
- Powerful motor with good weight distribution
While the Crafty is never going to be described as lively, weighing in at 25.1kg for our test build and with a long wheelbase, it is very composed, feeling super-stable when riding fast and with excellent cornering grip.
Our tester noted, however, that while taller, more aggressive riders will enjoy the Crafty for its ability to handle technical terrain flat out, smaller or more timid riders may find it hard to muscle the bike around and ride it dynamically.
Specialized Turbo Levo
- £4,249 / €4,799 / $4,975 / AU$7,500
- Great frame and motor
- Held back by spec
We rated the Turbo Levo’s frame as one of the best out there, with great geometry and a ride feel close to a pedal-powered bike. We also liked Spesh’s smooth 2.1 motor, although it doesn’t dish out as much torque as its competitors.
However, we were disappointed with the parts spec, with iffy braking and squirmy tyres, which stopped the Turbo Levo from scoring higher.
Buyer’s guide to electric mountain bikes
Electric mountain bike types
Whereas first-generation e-MTBs tended to be trail-oriented with around 150mm of travel, there’s now an increasing range of mountain bike disciplines covered.
At the other end, there are lighter machines such as the Specialized Turbo Levo SL and the Lapierre eZesty that use lighter, less powerful motors and smaller batteries similar to e-road bikes. That drops the bike’s weight and ups agility over more heavily built machines.
You’ll find e-MTBs with either 29in or 27.5in wheels, but ‘mullet builds’ with a 29in wheel up front and a 27.5in rear are becoming increasingly more common. This setup gives good stability at the front and better agility from the smaller rear wheel. Examples include the Canyon Spectral:ON and the Vitus E-Escarpe.
Electric mountain bike motors
Popular choices for e-MTB motors are Bosch, Shimano Steps and Yamaha, while Fazua’s lightweight motor is increasingly making an appearance on weight-focused bikes.
Bosch Performance Line CX motors provide 600Wh peak power and 75Nm of torque for fuss-free climbing. There’s a natural ride feel and good battery management that gets impressive range out of the system’s battery.
Shimano’s Steps E-8000 and E-7000 system is still a popular choice, although it has started to show its age, with lower power output and torque than newer rivals. Its smaller batteries give you less range too, but it still boasts low weight and a compact design along with the ability to tune its output.
However, Shimano has recently launched the new EP8 motor. This ups torque to 85Nm while reducing weight by around 200g, lowering pedalling drag, increasing range and lowering Q-Factor. The EP8’s launch coincided with Shimano increasing battery capacity to 630Wh. It is increasingly being specced on newer electric mountain bikes.
Meanwhile, Giant uses the Yamaha Syncdrive Pro motor on its e-MTBs. Its Smart Assist mode uses an array of six sensors, including a gradient sensor, to work out how much power to deliver in a given situation.
A popular choice on road-going ebikes, the Fazua motor system is to be found on some recent e-MTBs, such as the Lapierre eZesty. It’s lighter, less powerful and has a smaller battery. That means you typically need to put in more of your own pedalling effort, but it drops the bike’s weight down closer to self-propelled models. Plus, you can remove the battery completely and ride the bike without it.
Specialized has its own motor units, which it specs on the majority of its electric bikes. Its Turbo Levo SL trail bike uses the low torque SL 1.1 motor and a 320Wh battery for less assistance and lighter weight.
Electric mountain bike battery capacity
To get you up hills, produce enough power and provide adequate range, most electric mountain bikes will have batteries capacities of around 500Wh to 700Wh.
An internal battery in the down tube makes for clean lines, but there are also e-MTBs with external batteries. These typically lower the weight and in models like the Lapierre Overvolt mean that the battery can be placed lower and more centrally.
But, as mentioned above, e-MTBs with smaller capacity batteries down to 250Wh are appearing. They trade a more limited range for lighter weight and the potential for improved handling.